9th Edition and it’s first codexes are here. Now we can answer three questions from one year ago and see what the Grimdark learned from the Mortal Realms.
One year ago, rumors were whirling that in 2020, we would see a new Edition for 40k. You can imagine all the wailing and gnashing of teeth, but it looks like it all turned out ok. Back then we asked about three specific rules concepts that we hoped a then future tense 9th edition would borrow from Age of Sigmar 2nd Edition. Let’s look back with hindsight and see how it all turned out.
Goal 1: Spread Out CP/Command Abilities
I’ll admit it, stratagems/command abilities are a great addition to the game. They are super characterful and provide ways to make each army special and tied to their background. The problem isn’t the strats themselves, it’s the implementation of the concept. In AoS the system is designed to let both players use thier abilities slowly metered out over the entire game, early, mid, and late. Each players get to equally participate and get in some cool abilities during the game. In 40K, each player is loading up their competing CP catapults to the breaking point, both poised to fling everything they got into the opposing army as soon as turn 1 starts. It’s a whole different vibe and I think AoS has the better system.
The Verdict: Kind of
9th Edition certainly admitted the fundamental flaw with the entire CP concept in 8th, by tossing the entire CP-army construction mechanic away and starting from scratch. While 9th’s CP system still is much more expansive than AoS’, it is really toned back from the 35+ CP days of 8th Edition, and they even give you a little CP during the game. It seems clear that GW intends for 40K to be much more about CP use than AoS is, but they pulled it way back from its height.
Goal 2: Spectacle is Good
Age of Sigmar has done a fantastic job of breaking out of bland fantasy tropes and growing into something really new and unexpected. GW has gone hogwild with creative and large showcase miniatures. We all play a visual game, and don’t forget the large amount of hobbyists who rarely play, but love to paint up a beautiful model. With army centerpieces like Nagash and Archaon, to the Loonshrine, to the Kharadron Ironclad, there are large oversized pieces that are both beautiful AND effective on the tabletop. 40K doesn’t have nearly as many oversized kits outside of Forge World, and Knights. I hope to see more large scale plastic kits that aren’t cookie-cutter variants of other kits. Folks like owning the big items, so let them flow!
The Verdict: Yes, So Far
I think we have to go with the Necrons as our proof of concept on this one. We are seeing the edition kick off with giant kit redos and a lot of new kits. We are seeing the arrival of big Age of Sigmar style “army centerpiece” kits that are over the top in size and detail. Things like The Silent King, or the Shard of the Dragon C’tan, or newly enlarged Monolith would fit right in to the Mortal Realms type of spectacle kit. Marines by their nature don’t tend to use “the big stuff”, but Necrons give me a warm fuzzy feeling. I look forward to many more spectacle kits in the Grimdark’s future.
Goal 3: Embrace the Randomness
Random turn initiaive. It’s been one of the most divisive and controversial features of AoS. It’s also fair. It affects both players equally, and has a major effect on the game. You HAVE to be improvisational. With both players on average getting a double turn each game, you are going to have to roll with it. Random turn order has the effect of upsetting the meticulously details strategies that you often see in 40K where players mentally chart out the entire game from turn 1. You can come to the table with a solid army in AoS, but you always have to ready for the turn sequence to bite you, and you have be able to maximize the opportunity when it goes in your favor.
It also adds a heck of a lot of drama and excitement into the game. I say go for it!
The Verdict: Nope
Well two out of three isn’t bad. With 8th we are if anything seeing less randomness. Things like Seize the Initiative, and a huge amount of random damage weapons have moved to more static stats, or removed altogether. In general it would appear that the role of randomness is going to be a differing characteristic of both systems. Age of Sigmar is a bit more freewheeling yet streamlined of a game, while 40K is staying more detailed, but less affected by randomness. Pick your poison. Both are viable design implementations and both are fun as heck.
~Are you happy with where 40K and Age of Sigmar are in comparison? What rules do you thing each does best?